HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania Departments of State and Education this week launched the fifth annual Governor’s Civic Engagement Award (GCEA) Program, which promotes student-led voter registration efforts.
“The GCEA program is a creative way to encourage civic education and engagement among Pennsylvania’s high school students and cultivate the lifelong habit of voting. Our youngest voters are the future of our democracy,” Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid said. “I urge educators to enroll their schools in this nonpartisan program as soon as possible so that their students can get the voter registration toolkit early and begin planning their voter registration efforts.”
Schools that register at least 85 percent of their eligible students earn a Gold Level Award, while schools that register 65 percent or more of their eligible students earn a Silver Level Award. To be eligible to register to vote, a student must be a U.S. citizen and 18 years old or will turn 18 on or before the date of the next primary, special, municipal, or general election.
Students can earn individual GCEA awards for participating in voter registration efforts at their school and also serving as a poll worker during the November 2 election. To be a poll worker, students must be at least 17 years old and have the permission of their school principal and parent or guardian.
The deadline for schools to apply for awards for the 2021-22 school year is May 5, 2022. Recognition events will be held to honor the winning schools and students.
“Providing our students with tools to become civically engaged is important as they prepare to vote and actively participate in our democracy,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Noe Ortega. “This will help create positive outcomes for our communities, and I commend our high school students and supporting educators for encouraging civic engagement across the commonwealth.”
In 2020, the Department of State also launched the Pennsylvania Campus Voting Challenge, a nonpartisan competition among higher education institutions in the commonwealth to increase student voter participation and engagement.
September Is National Voter Registration Month
In 2002, the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) established National Voter Registration Month in September as a nonpartisan means of encouraging voter participation and increasing awareness of state voting requirements and deadlines.
National Voter Registration Day was launched in 2012 by a coalition of nonprofit and voter advocacy organizations and supported by NASS.
Pennsylvanians wishing to register to vote must be:
- A citizen of the United States for at least one month before the election
- A resident of Pennsylvania and the election district in which they will vote for at least 30 days before the election, and
- At least 18 years of age on or before the date of the election.
October 18 is Pennsylvania’s deadline to register to vote or update voter registration for the November 2 municipal election. The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot is 5 p.m. on October 26. Voted mail ballots must be received by county boards of elections by 8 p.m. on Election Day. For in-person voters, the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 2.
- a polling place locator
- contact information for county boards of election
- video demonstrations of the voting systems in use in each county
- voter registration forms
- information on mail-in and absentee voting
- a guide to running a voter registration drive
- printer-friendly voter education materials and lots more information.
For more information on voter registration, call the Department of State’s toll-free hotline at 1-877-868-3772 or visit vote.pa.gov.
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